The Vegetable Garden in July - Planting New Potatoes
If you have some spare space in your vegetable garden in July you could put in some 'Second Cropping' potatoes for a late Autumn/Winter harvest. Winter seed potatoes are essentially selected early varieties that have been kept at low temperatures to prevent them sprouting; the potatoes are planted in July for digging in late Autumn or left in the ground until Christmas. Christmas varieties can be planted directly in the ground as you would new potatoes or planted in pots or planters which can be moved into a greenhouse or tunnel when the weather gets cold. This year we have 3 varieties: 'Charlotte', 'Nicola' and 'Maris Peer' all of which produce delicious new potatoes with a smooth skin. Harvesting Garlic Now is about the right time to lift garlic which should be harvested when the leaves turn yellow. It is better to harvest too early than late as garlic left too long can shatter and may start sprouting. Loosen the soil underneath the bulbs and gently lift shaking the soil off the roots. Be gentle with the plants as as bruising can lead to rot in storage. If the weather is dry and sunny (chance would be a fine thing) leave the bulbs outside for 7-10 days otherwise dry in a greenhouse or conservatory with good ventilation. Leave the stems and leaves on the garlic which can be plaited for attractive and practical storage. Keep the best bulbs for re-planting next year if the crop looks healthy. There is some evidence that garlic gradually adapts to local climate so by re-planting every year you can gradually develop your own strain! Tomato Maintenance If you are growing tomatoes in your greenhouse or tunnel and have fruit ripening on the lower trusses like these 'Sungold' above it is a good idea to remove the lower leaves to allow more light in to ripen the fruit. Your plants will also benefit from a high potash feed while fruiting which will help improve flavour. I find cutting back on watering a little now also improves the taste and will help avoid splitting fruit. Green Manures If you have any empty space in the garden that you don't have earmarked for a follow on crop it is a good idea to sow some green manure now to protect the soil and help lock up nutrients. Many manures like Phacelia (below) also have very attractive flowers so add a dash of colour to the garden as well as looking after the soil. Charlotte Winter Seed Potatoes Charlotte are our new favourite new potato with impressive yields of delicious pale yelow potatoes. Nicola Winter Potatoes Long oval shaped tubers with yellow skin and a delicious waxy flesh ideal for boiling and salads. Maris Peer Winter Seed Potatoes Good yields of uniform small round and oval potatoes with white skin and flesh. The ultimate baby potato. Green Manure Phacelia Phacelia is good for smothering weeds and has an extensive root system which helps improve soil structure. Green manure Winter Vetch Fixes nitrogen and can be mixed with other green manures. The plants establish quickly suppressing weeds as it quickly forms an effective ground cover. Green Manure Clover Mix Clover is a handy fast growing green manure which is an excellent nitrogen fixer so perfect for adding some va va voom to your garden soil. It provides also excellent ground cover. Vegetable Harvesting Basket The oval vegetable basket is made from expertly handcrafted rattan. It is hard wearing and heavy duty and perfect for harvesting and storing freshly grown fruit and vegetables. Woven Rush Basket The old style rush weave gives this basket a wonderful natural feel while making a very strong yet light basket. It has a wide heavy duty handle for a comfortable grip when carrying. Vegetable Harvesting Knife The vegetable harvesting knife takes the hard work out of harvesting your crops. It has a comfortable timber handle and a long slender curved blade. Joseph Bentley Cropping Knife The Joseph Bentley Stainless Steel Cropping Knife has a stainless steel blade is curved with a serrated tip and made from high grade stainless steel to provide a more precise cut. Beach Chair - Suffolk Stripe Folding beechwood timber chair covered with 'Suffolk stripe' deckchair canvas. Perfect for lounging around the garden or bringing on outings. Bistro Folding Metal Garden Bench The Bistro Bench is a fold away metal garden bench from the Garden Trading range of garden furniture. Finished in clay colour powder coated steel.